Sunday, September 27, 2009

Celebrating a tiny life

"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are your works, And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance,
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them."
Psalm 139:14-16

Another beautiful chapter in our family story has been written by the great Author, with the marks of His care, love, and creativity all over it. And as He was writing, He bound up our hearts together with His words, so that His plans became ours, joyfully at first, and then sorrowfully, but always rejoicing. Tonight I would like to share with you some details of this chapter in our lives, celebrating the tiny life that was with us so briefly. I do not want to forget these things, but rather to ponder them in my heart, so the writing is as much for me as for you. Bear with me--this will probably get fairly long!

I mentioned in a previous post that we were surprised, upon returning from Hong Kong, to discover that I was expecting another baby. John and I had talked for a long time about whether or not to try to expand our family. We went back and forth, not really sensing a clear leading from the Lord at first. On the one hand, there were some challenges to life here in our situation with more children. We live in a place where we don't drive a car, our home is limited to a certain size, we would have to leave our home and potentially the country again to have another child, and then there were the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of pregnancy and caring for a newborn. On the other hand, we love children, and love having children. A precious human life seems so much more valuable than any practical consideration. And we had always hoped to have a big family. After much consideration though, we felt that perhaps the Lord was calling us to other work at this time that didn't include another child.

So, unlike with our first three carefully planned pregnancies, we were totally taken aback by this one! In fact, I was so surprised that I took four tests over four days, just to make sure! My house helper had bought the tests for me--the first two I took only cost about $.07 (yes, that's right, seven cents!) each so I wasn't sure I trusted them. By the third day and the third positive, though, I was convinced. It happened to be a Monday morning and John was still sleeping (of course I couldn't sleep, wanting to get up and take the test), but I woke him up and his first reaction was to laugh! Simply to laugh in awe of a reality that we had not intended, in light of the Lord's plans which were different from ours, and in surpise at how our lives were going to change from that very moment. Then, as he laughed, I cried a bit from mixed emotions . . . how was this going to work out? How would I homeschool Clara Anne with a new baby on the way (and in the room where we were going to homeschool)? Was I going to have to deal with another five months of nausea and vomiting, and then another month plus of prelabor contractions, like with Christin? Oh my, the emotions were swirling!

But our third reaction was to pray. John comforted and reassured me that this was "nothing but a blessing," and we brought our joy and concerns to the Lord. He was showing us, clearly, that HIS plan was for another child in our family! And His plans are always good. After we prayed, it took me approximately two and a half minutes to get really excited about the baby. The hope and promise of new life! A sweet little floppy newborn to cuddle and love! Best of all, after looking some things up online (what did we ever do without google?!), the due date fell beautifully right in the midst of our planned time in the States next spring!

This changed everything! We wouldn't have to leave the country to give birth and spend two months waiting . . . we'd already be there! I could give birth in my hometown hospital, with my parents and other family near by! I was getting more excited by the minute. It also meant that our time in the States, which we had planned to be quite busy with lots of traveling, would now mean that I would "stay put" much more, traveling at first but then waiting at my parent's home for the baby's arrival, and then after the baby's birth I would also have time to rest, recover, nurse around the clock, and all those things that you do with a newborn--which don't include putting thousands of miles on a car crisscrossing the U.S.

So, even as we talked about and planned for this wee one, growing inside, we kept the secret to ourselves for awhile. A few weeks went by. I hadn't gotten sick yet, but that was typical for me--with Christin I was sick from about week 8 to week 20 or so, the storm of nausea didn't hit right away. So though I wasn't feeling a lot of other pregnancy symptoms, it seemed my belly was already growing a bit and I was definitely making lifestyle choices based on the fact that I was pregnant.

On Wednesday, September 9, we decided it was the day to finally share the good news. I spent some happy time in the afternoon sharing with some American friends in our city, and then we made plans to tell our girls that night. My friend Becky insisted that we do something special to share the news with the girls, so I baked cupcakes and wrote "B A B Y" on four of them. We took pictures of the fun...take a look:

Helping Clara Anne to "sound it out." Having her read the word was part of the fun!

She did it! "Baby!"

"Mama, it says 'Baby'! I can read it! What does that mean, Mama?"
My "obvious" clue wasn't so obvious to the girls; there are too many babies in their lives, I guess. There's Christin, of course, still really a baby by their standards, and then there's all the baby dolls they love and care for, so they still weren't sure what "Baby" was supposed to mean.
So, ok, Mommy is going to point to the baby. Are you ready? Look at my fingers? Where will they point to?

There's the baby! In Mommy's tummy!

Clara Anne was so excited! Look at that huge smile!

Christin, on the other hand, just wanted to eat the cupcake.

Chloe seemed a little sad. (Yes, she is wearing a ballerina dress-up dress. And Clara is wearing an adult sized T-shirt! I obviously didn't plan their wardrobes for the pictures!) Upon further investigation, she was sad because Clara Anne got to do the special activity of reading the word on the cupcakes and she didn't. But after a little talking and of course, a cupcake, she cheered right up...and even gave me a hug to celebrate.
[Christin, still oblivious, eating her cupcake with delight.]

"Christin, can you say baby? Bayyyybeeee?"

That evening was quite cool, so we got out, for the first time, the fuzzy/feetie jammies that had been just waiting for the opportunity. The girls had lots of fun romping around in their cozy jammies, getting to stay up a bit late because we had some phone calls to make!
We thought it would be fun to call Grandpa and Grandma with the news, but let the girls tell them. First up: Clara Anne telling Grandpa and Grandma R. Lately we've had fun sending lots of e-cards to them, but when I got Grandma on the phone (Grandpa was at Bible study), I told her that Clara Anne had something to say to her personally. Clara Anne dived right in: "My mommy has another baby in her tummy!"
Next up: Grandma Ann. This time we let Chloe tell the news. Here's what she said, "Hello, Grandma? Guess what! We had cupcakes for supper! Yeah, because Mommy has a baby!" The whole time Clara Anne was in the background whispering loudly, "NO, Chloe, it's because Mommy has another baby in her tummy! We are going to have a new brother or sister!" Grandma Ann didn't quite get Chloe's meaning, not surprisingly, so John had to give a fuller explanation.
What fun! We called Grandpa back a bit later, surprised him too, and finally sent the girls to bed. This was Wednesday, the ninth. On Thursday I sent a few personal emails to family and friends, and made a brief announcement on my facebook page.
To be continued...

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